Small and medium (SME) size businesses comprise 99% of all businesses. The UK definition of an SME encompasses micro (less than 10 employees and an annual turnover under €2 million), small (less than 50 employees and an annual turnover under €10 million) and medium-sized (less than 250 employees and an annual turnover under €50 million).

Audiences - Small & medium businesses

Retail, professional services, hair and beauty, cafes, restaurants, catering, technology & IT, manufacture and production, healthcare, agriculture, construction, real estate, arts and entertainment, education and training, tourism and hospitality and many other sectors.

Typical topics and subjects can include pricing strategy, distribution channels, advertising, business services, product and service feedback, market understanding and competitive analysis.

Euro barometer of small & medium businesses

A CATI study was conducted with 300 interviews with SMEs in 23 European markets for 6,900 interviews in total. Sample sources by employee size, revenue and sector (SIC) from the D&B database. Representative targets vs national SME profile in each market. All programming and hosting by RONIN, with local translations of the questionnaire, open-ended translations and data delivery on a weekly basis.

  • 6,900 phone interviews across 23 European markets
  • Representative sample sources from D&B by RONIN
  • 15 languages translated by RONIN translation services team
Euro barometer of small & medium businesses

A small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) refers to businesses that maintain revenues, assets, or a number of employees below a certain threshold. The specific metrics that define an SME can vary by country. Here are some examples of typical SME businesses across various industries:


Independent grocery stores

Local boutique clothing shops

Specialty gift shops

Hardware stores



Local law firms

Accounting firms

Consulting agencies

Marketing and advertising agencies

Hair salons and spas


Food and Beverage

Independent cafes and coffee shops

Local restaurants

Catering services


Technology and IT

IT support and managed services providers

Software development firms

Digital marketing agencies

E-commerce startups


Manufacturing and Production

Small-scale food processors

Craftsmanship workshops (e.g., woodworking, metalwork)

Clothing and textile manufacturers



Private dental clinics

Physical therapy centers

Independent pharmacies



Family-owned farms

Small vineyards or wineries

Boutique agribusinesses (e.g., organic herb farms, beekeeping)


Construction and Real Estate

Local construction firms

Real estate agencies

Property management companies



Local courier and delivery services

Small charter airline companies

Independent taxi or ride-hailing services


Arts and Entertainment

Independent art galleries

Event planning companies

Recording studios

Local theaters


Education and Training

Private tuition or coaching centres

Local vocational training institutes

Independent e-learning content creators


Tourism and Hospitality

Bed and breakfast establishments

Local tour operators

Adventure sports companies

It's worth noting that the above examples can vary in size and scope. Some might be at the larger end of the SME spectrum, with hundreds of employees, while others might be small businesses or even solo enterprises. The key characteristic is that they operate at a scale below that of larger corporations in their respective sectors.



What topics are best covered, and what types of market research with SMEs?

When considering market research for SMEs (small to medium-sized enterprises), the objectives often revolve around understanding the market, customer behaviours, competition, and potential growth opportunities. The best topics to cover and types of market research methodologies suitable for SMEs include:


Topics to Cover:

Market Understanding

Size and growth rate of the market

Market segmentation and target audience

Market trends and future forecasts


Customer Insights

Customer demographics and psychographics

Buying behavior and decision-making process

Needs, preferences, and pain points

Customer satisfaction and loyalty


Competitive Analysis

Identifying key competitors and their market share

Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of competitors

Unique selling propositions of competitors


Product and Service Feedback

Product usage and satisfaction levels

Feedback on pricing

Suggestions for improvements or new product/service ideas


Branding and Positioning

Brand awareness and perception

Positioning in the market relative to competitors


Distribution Channels

Effectiveness and reach of current distribution channels

Opportunities for new distribution methods or partnerships


Pricing Strategy

Price sensitivity analysis

Optimal pricing points and strategies


Promotion and Advertising

Effectiveness of current marketing campaigns

Feedback on promotional materials and advertising mediums


Barriers to Entry

Challenges faced when entering or expanding in the market

Regulatory, economic, or competitive barriers


Types of Market Research:

Qualitative Research

In-depth Interviews: One-on-one interviews with stakeholders, customers, or industry experts.

Focus Groups: Group discussions led by a moderator to gain insights on specific topics.

Ethnographic Studies: Observing customers in their natural setting to understand behavior and preferences.

Quantitative Research

Surveys and Questionnaires: Distributed to a larger audience, either online, on the phone, or face-to-face.

Observational Research: Counting or recording specific behaviors or actions in a given setting.


Secondary Research

Industry Reports: Existing reports that provide insights on market size, trends, and competition.

Competitor Analysis: Using public data to analyze competitors' strategies, products, and performance.

Online Analytics: Tools like Google Analytics or social media insights to track online behaviour.


Experimental Research

A/B Testing: Testing two versions to see which performs better, often used for marketing campaigns, websites, or product features.

Product Trials: Providing samples to get feedback on new products or features.


Analytical Tools

SWOT Analysis: Assessing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

PESTEL Analysis: Evaluating external factors (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, and Legal) affecting the business.

Conducting market research can be a resource-intensive task for SMEs, given their typically limited budgets. However, choosing the right topics and methods can yield valuable insights that guide decision-making and strategy. Often, a mix of both qualitative and quantitative research methods provides a comprehensive understanding of the market and the challenges at hand.

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